I’ve just learned Schweizer, which strikes me as unusual for an adjective in:

  1. having a capital letter;
  2. not being inflected for case/gender/number.

Do the two always go hand-in-hand, and is Schweizer a rare case?

  • 1
    Could you give the context in which you saw this as an adjective?
    – nem75
    Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 10:54
  • 1
    @nem75 Just click on Brian's link :) Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 13:04

3 Answers 3


Adjectives derived from geographical terms ending in -er are always capitalized and not inflected. There are quite a few of these adjectives (especially for towns: Berliner, Hamburger, Münchner, Bremer, Kölner…), but I'm not aware of a general rule that tells us whether geographical adjectives are formed using -er (vs. -isch etc.).

For clarification, if it is not exactly clear what the OP means:

  • ein Schweizer Bürger
  • das Berliner Rathaus
  • der Kölner Dom


  • ein deutscher Bürger (adjective is "deutsch", not "Deutscher")
  • Ich bin ein Berliner (noun, not adjective)
  • 1
    From the Duden entry referenced by the Link, it seems to be the first group of examples. Otherwise, he would have asked for Schweizer ;-)
    – tohuwawohu
    Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 17:38
  • @tohuwawohu: Indeed! Also, I’ve incorporated a link to the capitalisation rule from your comment on the other answer. Commented May 11, 2012 at 20:19

There are adjectives which don’t have capital letters and which don’t inflect – such as rosa – so no, the two don’t always go hand-in-hand.


If it is part of a fixed name like "Kölner Dom", "der Regierende Bürgermeister" the adjective is capitalized... here is the source

Those DO inflect though...

An den Regierenden Bürgermeister

Der Regierende Bürgermeister von Berlin ist Klaus W.

Klaus W., Regierender Bürgermeister von Berlin, ist in der SPD.

  • 2
    IMHO you can't compare combinations like "Regierender Bürgermeister" to those adjectives. It's an official title that's subject to an exceptional rule in matters of orthography. For derivations of geographical names, there's a rule on its own.
    – tohuwawohu
    Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 17:52
  • 1
    hmmm... ok you have a point there but I don't think this rule is really helpful... also because it does not apply as soon as we speak of fixed names. An example is given there, "die Chinesische Mauer"... so why not stick with "names get capitalized". As for the inflection... the -er words are already inflected in Genitive case... just like "Schöner Frauen Grazie macht mich froh."... so of course those won't inflect again but generally there is no rule that adjectives don't inflect in situations as those we are talking about
    – Emanuel
    Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 18:03
  • Hmm - it's quite difficult (this is why i didn't dare to write an own answer ;-) )... but do we have adjectives derived from geographical names which end on -er and get inflected? I think the rule is that those adjectives don't get inflected.
    – tohuwawohu
    Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 18:47
  • no there are no such adjectives I would say because the -er is an inflection of itself so they already are inflected. That is how I perceive it. It is an inflection indicating Genitive... Christians Bier ist warm. Berliner Bier ist warm. It is the beer "of" Berlin. It is an irregular inflection though as it has the form of the female independent of the Gender. Anyway... this is based on my personal reflection on the matter and might be nonsense :)
    – Emanuel
    Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 19:47
  • Der Regierende Bürgermeister von Berlin wäre jedoch besser ein Regierender Bürgermeister Berlins, auch wenn das von inzwischen toleriert wird - geadelt ist es, wiewohl es gerade die Adligen im Namen tragen, damit nicht. Der richtige Genitiv darf, glaube ich, noch als besser bezeichnet werden. Commented May 11, 2012 at 21:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.